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How to Identify and Treat a Dog Anxiety Attack

Being a dog owner is a true joy and privilege. As much as we may love our furry family member, sometimes we get busy and may forget to take note of what’s going on.

You may notice your dog start to act out or act differently based on what’s going on in the home. Did you know 40% of dog behavioral issues are a result of separation anxiety?

A dog anxiety attack can be a scary thing, but it is important to prepare for the moment should one occur. Our beloved canines can display a wide variety of different signs when feeling anxious.

Here’s a guide to the essentials for when your dog needs help:

1.  Know the Causes

Much like us humans, dogs can experience anxiety for a number of different reasons. The three main causes for dog anxiety attacks are:

1. Separation anxiety

2. Noises (thunderstorms, vacuums, construction)

3. Social situations involving other dogs or humans

Other less common causes of anxiety are past trauma and medical issues. In most cases, though, dog anxiety attacks come from fear, whether perceived or real. That fear causes emotional distress, which reaches high levels when separated from those they are most emotionally attached to.

In especially bad cases, and in dogs with OCD (Osteochondritis Dissecans), the dog may chew its toenails or wound itself. By recognizing some of the symptoms, you can help your dog back to a peaceful state.

 2. Recognize Dog Anxiety Attack Symptoms

Luckily for us humans, we can use our words to express exactly what’s going on with us. Dogs, however, use behavior to show you what they may be dealing with. Here are some symptoms your dog may show if he is experiencing a dog anxiety attack:

  • Barking
  • Panting
  • Excessive licking
  • Trembling
  • Cowering, sinking movements
  • Hiding behind you or seeking solitude
  • Piloerection (hair standing on back)
  • Restless pacing
  • Failure to follow basic commands
  • Seeking extra attention
  • Defecation though house trained
  • Aggression (snapping, growling)

These symptoms paired with restless and destructive behaviors are the only way your pet knows how to handle anxiety.

It may be hard to see your pup experience anxiety, but all is not lost! By noting when your pet is experiencing these symptoms, you can be a great source of help by calming your furry friend.

3. Treatment

Along with regular preventative treatment, they say a tired pup is a happy pup. Dogs need sufficient exercise and confidence building activities on a daily basis to maintain a state of euphoria.

It’s critical for dogs to experience a wide variety of social situations in their first 14 weeks of life because early exposure to other dogs normalizes social interactions with them. Training your dog keeps his mind sharp, as do social experiences.

Mental stimulation paired with physical and social activity is key in helping dogs stay relaxed and calm. If the anxiety seems to be caused by fear when a certain noise or event occurs, try exposing it to him in small doses.

Some dogs respond well to being swaddled in a t-shirt or held close by their owner. If the behavior continues after you’ve returned, or the thunderstorm has stopped, get a diagnosis from your vet. Not all destructive behaviors are caused by anxiety.

4. Take Action

The good news: with some training and plenty of exercise, most dogs will find themselves happily napping instead of nervous. While there is medication for dogs with inherent anxiety traits, many of these in-home treatments may help them a great deal.

Understanding what your dog is feeling is important in helping your pet to avoid dog anxiety attacks. By recognizing the telltale signs and symptoms, you’ll know when to help them.

If your dog is experiencing continued anxiety, reach out and let us help your pet find peace again.